Opposition mounts pressure on UPA, Congress hits back (Lead)

August 27th, 2012 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties Monday ratcheted up pressure on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, seeking cancellation of all the coal block allocations found faulty by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The Congress hit back at the main opposition party accusing it of “hijacking parliament over its demand for prime minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation.

Reacting to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in parliament earlier in the day over CAG report on coal block allocation, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said the party wants the prime minister to accept moral responsibility for the loss to the exchequer due to allocations.

“The prime minister is responsible for the revenue loss. That is why we want him to go,” Swaraj said.

She said all the coal blocks allocated without auction to private and state-run firms should be cancelled and these should be auctioned afresh.

She alleged that the Congress had made big money from the allocation.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the rationale of cancellation of coal blocks was that nobody should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of corrupt allotment at the cost of public exchequer.

Referring to the 2G spectrum scam in which licences were cancelled by court, Jaitley said history had vindicated the CAG.

Speaking in Gandhinagar in Gujrat, BJP leader L.K. Advani accused the prime minister of attacking the CAG in his statement.

“If the prime minister has attacked anybody, it is the CAG. It is a matter of surprise,” Advani said.

BJP leaders denied they were isolated on stalling parliament.

They, however, said the party was also prepared to fight it out alone.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the government should cancel all allocations found faulty by the CAG and auction them.

Yechury refuted Manmohan Singh’s claim that states like West Bengal wanted the coal blocks to be allotted and not auctioned.

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy accused the prime minister of not exercising his authority to prevent loss to the exchequer in coal block allocation.

“The time has come for a mid-term poll. we can’t have a prime minister who does not exercise authority,” he said.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta called the prime minister’s statement a “lame duck” and faulted the him for attacking the CAG.

Dasgupta clarified that he did not want Manmohan Singh to go, as this would lead to mid-term polls. He also slammed the BJP for stalling parliament.

CPI leader D. Raja said the prime minister did not speak about “accountability” in his statement.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari accused the BJP of “hijacking” parliament and “running away” from a debate on coal blocks allocation.

He said UPA government was ready for a debate in parliament and it will “expose the BJP and leave it with a blackened face”.

Tiwari refuted BJP allegations that the Congress had made a lot of money in its coal blocks allocation, and said it was the “BJP’s tradition” and not the Congress’ way of doing things.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni also slammed the BJP for its “obstructionist” tactics in parliament and said it was denigrating democratic institutions.

Soni criticised Jaitley for his comments justifying “parliamentary obstructionism” in rarest of rare occasions.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the BJP was being unreasonable in demanding the prime minister’s resignation.

The BJP had forced adjournments of the two houses over its demand for president’s resignation last week and continued its protest Monday.

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